Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

URBAN SCUBA; Neoprene Isn't Just for Wetsuits -- It Hugs Figures, iPads and Trainers Now, Says Victoria Stewart

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

URBAN SCUBA; Neoprene Isn't Just for Wetsuits -- It Hugs Figures, iPads and Trainers Now, Says Victoria Stewart

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Stewart

ONCE we recognised that there is nothing dignified about limbering up in a soggy wetsuit, our surfing careers came to a grinding halt and we all hoped neoprene had been given the old heave-ho. But it seems the foamy stuff is wheedling its way back into our summer wardrobes and even our picnic hampers.

Gone are the days of damp, heavy surfsuits. In their place are figurehugging summer dresses, spongy iPad cases and hi-top trainers.

Tough in texture, neoprene is a surprising choice of dress material but ex-fashion buyer Lisa Marie Fernandez saw the potential for such clothing three years ago after endless Google searches for it showed no results. Now Fernandez claims she has an exclusive type of luxury neoprene -- made in America but far from the surf.

"My idea took a year to develop as it's so hard to construct, but ours is so different to wetsuits -- it's soft, feels light on and it's so versatile," she says.

After a successful first season, comprising seven neoprene bathing suits and bikinis which were immediately snapped up by Liberty and Net-a-Porter.com, Fernandez has since launched a 70-piece collection including bold, two-toned neoprene dresses from [pounds sterling]360. She believes the fabric has taken off because people always react to seeing something new and unexplored -- girls at Paris fashion week were even seen clubbing with her [pounds sterling]280 bikini tops worn under blazers with heels.

Surely we'd have to fulfil Size Zero criteria to squeeze into one of Fernandez's creations? On the contrary, she says -- neoprene is springy enough that it hugs curves and gives a fantastic shape, giving Herve Leger's body-con dress a run for its money. Better still, she admits there are other benefits: "My A-cup friends say it gives them a great cleavage, plus it's a look that works well in cities. …

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